Side-By-Side Comparison

Comparing mediation, collaborative law, and litigation

Understand your options

Unsure about which approach to take? Use the table below to compare mediation, collaborative law, and litigation side-by-side.

Mediation

Collaborative Law

Litigation

Who decides the outcome?

The parties make all decisions.
The parties make all decisions.
The judge or arbitrator makes the decisions

How are decisions made?

  • The parties and the mediator go beneath the positions to examine the underlying interests of the parties.
  • Parties seek solutions that “expand the pie” and meet the important interests of both parties.
  • The collaborative team helps the parties to truly understand and evaluate what matters most to them.
  • They bring expertise to identify creative options looking for win/win outcomes. 
  • Each party advances its own position, often at the expense of the other.
  • Parties compete for resources in a zero sum game.
  • Whatever the judge says, goes.

What professional support is provided?

  • A neutral mediator works directly with the parties offering conflict management tools and providing information.
  • Legal advice is usually provided by consulting/review attorneys whose degree of involvement can vary.
  • Each party has their own individual attorney who provides legal advice and support at every step.
  • Additionally, neutral subject matter professionals in areas such as finance and family dynamics assist the parties as needed.
  • Each party may retain their own attorney.
  • They may also retain separate experts (accountants, business valuators, etc.) to provide competing opinions for the court to consider.
  • The court may also appoint neutral evaluators or professionals at the expense of the parties.

How do the parties relate to one another during the process?

  • During mediation sessions, the parties discuss the important issues that matter most to them – in ways that preserve and honor their relationship.
  • The mediator helps to manage the conflict and keep things on track.
  • The process is one of cooperation and the parties agree to abide by a code of conduct which demands transparency and respect.
  • Working together, the parties strive to preserve and honor their relationship and set themselves up for future success.
  • The parties are adversaries. Every person for themself.
  • The future relationship of the parties is often not a significant consideration.
  • Communication is primarily through attorneys.

What about the children?

  • Children are shielded from the conflict between their parents, and their well being remains at the center of every discussion.
  • Parents decide what is best for their own children.
  • The health and well-being of the children is always front and center.
  • Collaborative teams may include neutral experts, such as child and family specialists, who offer expert advice and insight to help parents make the decisions that are best for their children.
  • The best interests of the children are determined by a stranger, rather than the parents. 
  • Children may be made part of the court process and assigned a separate attorney.
  • The entire family may be subject to intrusive evaluations and questioning.

Is privacy protected?

  • Mediation is a confidential process held in complete privacy.
  • Parties and the mediator sign an agreement to maintain confidentiality now and in the future.
  • Collaborative law is a confidential process and all meetings are private.
  • Everyone signs a collaborative participation agreement maintaining confidentiality for all time.
  • Personal information is gathered from various sources for parties to use against one another
  • Hearings and other proceedings may occur in courtrooms before strangers including court personnel, other attorneys and litigants.

Who controls how long the process takes?

In mediation the parties determine how frequently to hold mediation sessions thereby exercising substantial control over the timeline.

The parties largely dictate the pace of the process and the professionals work to accommodate the parties’ needs.

The timeline is subject to the court calendar and the standards and goals set by the court.

How convenient is the scheduling?

The parties and mediator find mutually convenient times to conduct their meetings.
The parties and the professionals work together to schedule meetings at times that work for everyone.
Schedules are made by the court. Parties and/or their attorneys are generally required to appear at the time specified.

How expensive is it?

  • Although costs can vary widely (due to the complexity of the issues and the parties’ own pacing and dynamics), mediation is generally the least expensive of the methods.
  • For much of the mediation process, costs are limited to the fees of a single professional.
  • Because Collaborative Law requires the services of several professionals, it is an inherently more expensive process than mediation.
  • However, by effectively using neutrals and customizing the process for each unique case, collaboration strives to maintain efficiency and deliver outstanding value.
  • The truth is – it’s out of your hands.
  • Parties often incur costs based on the demands and efforts of the other party as well as the generic requirements of the court.
  • Depending on the complexity and tenor of the proceedings, there is really no limit to the fees that might be required to reach conclusion.

Learn more about mediation

A mediator works directly with people in conflict to find a mutually agreeable resolution to their dispute.

Learn more about Collaborative Law

Collaborative Law uses an interdisciplinary team of professionals who work together with the parties to help find solutions that work for everyone. 

Contact Me

Name

Testimonial Disclaimer

Every legal matter is different. The outcome of each legal case depends upon many factors, including the facts of the case, and no attorney can guarantee a positive result in any particular case. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Contact Disclaimer

Any information sent to by internet, e-mail, or through the website is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis. Transmission of information from this website or via email does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the attorney, nor is it intended to do so. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Attorney Advertising Disclaimer

The information contained in this website is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. Transmission of information from this website does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the attorney, nor is it intended to do so. This website contains general information and may not reflect current legal developments, settlements, or verdicts. No recipients of content from this site, clients or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting solely on the basis of any content included in the site without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice from a qualified attorney licensed in the recipient’s state. 

Some links within the Website may lead to other web-sites, including those operated and maintained by third parties. We include these links solely as a convenience to you, and the presence of such a link does not imply a responsibility for the linked site or an endorsement of the linked site, its operator, or its contents.

This web site may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions under the applicable law and ethical rules. The determination of the need for legal services and the choice of a lawyer are extremely important decisions and should not be based solely upon advertisements.

All attorneys depicted on this website are from the Law Offices of Ivan Alter, Esq., P.C. Any other persons depicted in a photo or video are actors or models and not clients of the firm.